Thursday, 19 July 2012

The Stella Alpina Rally 2012

Edelweiss, Edelweiss....



The Stella Alpina Motociclista Internazionale, AKA the Stella Alpina Rally (AKA Edelweiss Rally, named after the beautiful alpine flower which only grows at height on alpine passes), has been taking place since the 1960's in Bardonnechia, Italy on the second Sunday in July every year and the main event is an off-road ride to the Colle del Sommeiller. At an altitude of 2,993 metres, this is the highest valley pass in Italy, situated in the Alpi Cozie between Italy and France. It was originally started with the idea that ordinary riders who normally rode on roads and in towns could take part and take their bikes off-road and ride up the track to the top to experience a different type of riding. Because it is open to everyone and every bike, it is a very inclusive friendly rally with an eclectic mix of bikes zooming up and down. You can see every type of bike on the road, ordinary road bikes attempt it, sidecar outfits attempt it, quad bikes attempt it - you name it it's there, and everyone is helpful and friendly, it is generally just a really warm and good fun event.

Milan to France on the backroads 

One of our intrepid Wemoto riders, while on a trip across Europe which took in Wemoto France, in Beziers in the Languedoc- Rousillon region of the South of France and Wemoto Italy in Milan, stumbled upon the Stella Alpina Rally on his travels, high up in the Italian's how he found it and what he saw.

Where were you going and where had you come from?

I was heading out from Wemoto Italy in Milan, on a Honda VFR750 with a regulator/recifier which had just started giving trouble after riding 1000km out of Milan that day! While I was diddling along the back roads, generally admiring the scenery, I started to notice that loads of bikes were materialising all around me, I was puzzled.

Did you know about the Stella Alpina Rally?

Not at all, I stopped in a bar for a well earned drink and got chatting to an Italian motorcyclist with a German girlfriend who told me that they were heading up to meet and Irish friend (beginning of an indication that this
might be a pretty international event..) for the 'Edelweiss rally' up in the mountains and I should go as it was fantastic.  The Italian rider made me a nice little hand drawn map and I decided to go and have a look so I set off up the road into the Italian Alps to see what I could see.

Eat My Dust..what happened up the track?

Following my little scrap-map faithfully, I travelled up the road which very soon turned into a dusty dirt track filled with big dusty dirt bikes stirring up clouds of the dry road surface as they went by.  The road went higher and higher and everywhere there were clumps of interesting bikes - moving singly or in herds, or resting and chatting at the side of the road on their way up. Local motocrossers, who were obviously familiar with the road, whizzed past me having a brilliant time and creating a fog of dust in their wake.  There were also bikes out collecting wood which they had either loaded onto the back of their bikes in crazy wide loads, or just dragging half trees along behind their bikes destined for the roaring blaze of the evening campsite. Most of the wood was salvaged from fast flowing rivers and waterfalls which came thundering down from the mountains carrying dislodged trees along with them.  This general massive tree-dragging activity on the road didn't help the dust but everyone was so good natured and friendly that it was just entertaining ....


What bikes did you see?

There was a total mixture of bikes: Big off-road BMWGSs, Honda XL & XLVs, Yamaha XTs - totally in their comfort zone on the dirt track, a Yamaha VMAX, a woman riding UK Reg Honda Super Dream, a smattering of small off-road bikes, a lot of local motocross bikes moseying on by, the odd Quad and even some road sidecar outfits! The weird and wonderful world of motorcycles all gathered together in the most unlikely and unexpected of places on the side of a mountain in the Italian Alps!

Was it mainly local Italians there?

The mixture of nationalities was as diverse as the mixture of bikes - it was truly a multinational, multibike event - with Irish, Hungarians, Slovakians, Italians, Germans, English - you name it they were there - I saw at least 50 English bikes and I was only there for a few hours!

How much did you see of the Rally?

Sadly, because I has stumbled upon it unexpectedly, just like it's namesake a little Edelweiss flower in my path, I didn't have any camping equipment or cold weather gear with me so I needed to get over the high passes before it got too late in order to get to France without freezing - it was at least 14 degrees colder up in the mountains than down on the plain so I wasn't really in a position to hang around. As I arrived on the first day I just saw people setting up camp and setting off up the track  - I would love to have stayed and seen more - next year perhaps...

What was the Rally atmosphere like?

It was so friendly, everyone was smiling and waving as you passed them, utterly chilled, it was a different world with mountain scenery to die for and perfect weather - couldn't wish for better - as the Americans say 'it don't get much better than this'.

Did you see the campsite?
Yes it was idyllic, in a valley with the massive silent grandeur of the mountains rising up on each side as though they were silently, benevolently, watching. Everyone was happily homemaking, setting up tents and collecting wood, looking forward to the rally and the evening fires and the generally brilliant atmosphere.

Would you go again?

Yes definitely it is on my list I will be back with my camping gear one year, it's a gem, not to be missed..

1 comment:

  1. Great article on the Stella Alpina! I'll be putting my memoirs from it up on my blog when I get around to it - hopefully soon!
    Lizzie (the woman riding the UK reg Honda Super Dream)